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Posts Tagged ‘Texas Ethics Commission’

Abbott’s actions in the Hecht ethics case belie his “just doing my job” evasion

More accurately, it’s his lack of action that speaks clearly about his priorities and discretion. Attorney General Greg Abbott, accused of favoritism in his handling of an ethics case involving a Texas Supreme Court justice, says it’s not his duty to press the case that has sat idle for two years. That reasoning, however, doesn’t […]

TPJ files suit against Abbott over Hecht ethics case

Here we go again. An Austin legal watchdog group filed suit Wednesday to force action on a $29,000 ethics fine, levied against Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht in 2008, that has languished on appeal for 5½ years. The motion from Texans for Public Justice seeks to remove Attorney General Greg Abbott from the […]

Empower Texans could have some tax problems

Schadenfreude alert: Empower Texans, an organization at the center of the state’s far-right conservative movement, reported no political expenses on its 2012 tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service, despite showing $350,000 in campaign expenditures to state authorities, documents show. The group, which claims to support fiscal responsibility and greater transparency in government, is best […]

Abbott files complaint with Ethics Commission over Davis book tour

Whatever. The campaign manager for GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott filed an ethics complaint on Thursday alleging that the book tour of Abbott’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, represents a conversion of political contributions into personal use. Wayne Hamilton’s complaint to the Texas Ethics Commission claims that Davis converted political contributions […]

Abbott claims Davis’ book tour constitutes an illegal campaign contribution

I guess he has to do something to distract from what’s actually in Sen. Davis’ book. Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott asked the Texas Ethics Commission on Monday to rule whether opponent Wendy Davis’ book deal and tour crosses the line on illegal corporate campaign contribution because it is tied to her ongoing campaign. Davis’ […]

Shine a light on dark money

I totally favor this. Secret campaign donors in Texas may soon be forced out of the shadows. The Texas Ethics Commission, already fighting a conservative group in court over whether it can regulate dark money disclosure, appears poised to approve a proposal aimed at requiring some politically active nonprofits to start revealing their anonymous donors. […]

Davis outraises Abbott on the 8 day report

Nice. Democrat Wendy Davis reported that she outstripped Republican Greg Abbott in fundraising, bringing in $2.85 million over a 29-day period. His totals were reported here. Davis has $11.3 million tucked away looking ahead to the general election. Her overall bank account still lags well behind Abbott’s $30 million. The Republican attorney general has seen […]

The oldest established permanent floating ethics probe in the state

The Chief Justice of our State Supreme Court, ladies and gentlemen. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, already the longest-serving member of the state’s highest civil court, has the dubious distinction of owning another record: the longest running appeal of a state ethics fine. With the case dragging into its fifth year, watchdog groups […]

Keller accepts a plea deal on ethics charge

She gets off pretty lightly, if you ask me. Sharon Keller, the state’s top criminal court judge, has reached a deal to substantially reduce a record $100,000 fine levied by the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to fully disclose millions of dollars of real estate and income in financial statements. Under the settlement, released Friday, […]

More leftover campaign cash

The Chron writes about a subject I’ve covered before. Former Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs of Houston used leftover campaign funds to buy a life membership in the National Rifle Association. Former Rep. Martin Frost of Dallas paid a $6,000 Federal Election Commission fine. Former Rep. Tom DeLay of Sugar Land hired a media consultant. And former […]

TEC approves texting campaign contributions

From Jerad Najvar: After brief discussion and comments by Jerad Najvar, attorney for Harris County Republicans, the TEC voted unanimously to approve a draft opinion permitting Texas political committees to accept contributions by text message. APPROVED OPINION HERE (the first page is a diagram of each method) The request proposed two methods for processing text […]

On conflicts of interest

Many members of the Texas Legislature have conflicts of interest, or at least they would if the rules on such in the Lege were more clear. Advocates of a part-time legislature say the system keeps lawmakers in touch with their constituents. Lawmakers are expected to serve their communities, and check their personal interests at the […]

CM Brown reimburses the city for her magnets

Score one for David Feldman. Houston City Councilwoman Helena Brown has repaid the city nearly $3,000 in taxpayer money she spent on refrigerator magnets that the Texas Ethics Commission says amount to campaign swag. City Attorney David Feldman, who had asked Brown to reimburse the city before the commission issued its opinion Thursday, said Brown […]

Time for the biennial attempt to de-fang the Travis County DA

Same story, next chapter. The Texas Ethics Commission, long criticized for its lax enforcement of public officials, is considering a plan to take over all ethics enforcement from the Travis County district attorney’s office, which has a long history of prosecuting errant state officeholders. The eight-member Ethics Commission, meeting Thursday in Austin, is scheduled to […]

Texting campaign contributions

I see no reason why this should not be allowed. A Houston-based PAC is asking the Texas Ethics Commission to approve a proposal that would allow the committee to solicit text message contributions from donors in the state. The Federal Election Commission has approved a text-to-donate model for federal campaigns, but demand for the service […]

Helena’s magnets

It’s been awhile since my last Helena Brown post, hasn’t it? Houston City Attorney David Feldman has asked Councilwoman Helena Brown to reimburse the city nearly $3,000 in taxpayer money she spent on refrigerator magnets that he contends amount to re-election swag. Brown’s office has declined to pay the money back, and both sides have […]

Drainage madness

I have three things to say about this. A year ago, Taxpayers for Financial Accountability campaigned against Houston’s Proposition 1, which called for a pay-as-you-go fund to shore up the city’s drainage infrastructure in part through a monthly fee on homes and businesses. They lost. The measure narrowly passed and the first bills went out […]

The $25,000 question

What the hell? A $25,000 campaign contribution to a Houston school board member normally would raise eyebrows for its size. Add in the fact that the donation was not listed in the trustee’s financial disclosure forms, and the five-figure check becomes evidence in a lawsuit. A Houston construction firm, the Gil Ramirez Group, alleged in […]

Sometimes, a little spite goes only a little way

I’ve decided I’m more amused by this story than anything else. Last year, six tea party members in the Houston area promised to make Austin City Council members pay for rebuking Arizona’s new immigration enforcement law, and they used extensive campaign finance complaints as their tool of retribution. The result: $1,500 in small fines for […]

Ethics ID

According to Martha, State Rep. Ken Legler (R, HD144) has filed HB1036, which would require two forms of ID to file an ethics complaint with the TEC. Who knew that ethics complaint fraud was so rampant in Texas? Clearly, our Attorney General has fallen down on the job in investigating this. I just want to […]

More on the new city ethics code

Not everyone likes the city’s new ethics regulations. “Instead of enforcing ethics standards, all of these things seem to license unethical behavior,” said Craig Holman, a lobbyist for government watchdog Public Citizen in Washington, D.C. The exceptions to the city’s new gift policy “license unlimited gifts and unlimited travel, and that is exactly what codes […]

Revising the city ethics code

I don’t know enough about the specifics of this to draw any firm conclusions, but it sounds reasonable enough from the description. The city is poised to significantly tighten its ethics rules, closing loopholes that allow lobbyists to avoid registration and criminalizing some violations of a stricter code of conduct for city officials. “It’s a […]

Travis County DA to investigate Double Dip Driver

The Republican wave helped him survive re-election this year, but State Rep. Joe Driver’s troubles aren’t over just yet. Assistant District Attorney Gregg Cox, head of the public integrity unit, which oversees official corruption cases, said Tuesday that prosecutors had begun reviewing the travel practices of Rep. Joe Driver before the November elections. Now that […]

TPJ files complaint against King Street Patriots

From the inbox: TPJ today filed a formal complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission alleging that the King Street Patriots and KSP/True the Vote have violated the state’s prohibition on corporate contributions to political parties and candidates. The complaint says the groups appear to have made repeated in-kind corporate contributions to the Harris County Republican […]

Double-Dip Driver

In case you missed this the other day. State Rep. Joe Driver of Garland, who rails against the evils of runaway government spending, admitted Monday that he has pocketed thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for travel expenses that his campaign had already funded. The veteran Republican legislator, faced with findings from an investigation by […]

Perry settles lawsuit with Bell

The settlement in the lawsuit by Chris Bell against the Rick Perry campaign over allegations of illegal campaign contributions to Perry by the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is now official. Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign paid $426,000 to former Democratic challenger Chris Bell to settle a lawsuit. Bell, Perry’s unsuccessful Democratic challenger in 2006, sued the […]

TPJ files ethics complaint against Perry

It’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it. Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit watchdog group, filed a complaint [Wednesday] urging the Texas Ethics Commission to require Gov. Rick Perry to provide detailed reports of campaign spending on living and entertainment expenditures related to the Governor’s Mansion. TPJ alleges that Perry violated campaign […]

Keller may yet face criminal charges

Grits read through the TEC ruling against Sharon Keller, who was hit with a record $100K fine for various failures to disclose financial information, and notes that the system isn’t done with Keller yet, as there is still the matter of a pending criminal complaint against her. I called [Travis County Attorney David] Escamilla to […]

Keller gets slammed by Ethics Commission

Wow. The Texas Ethics Commission has levied a record $100,000 fine against Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller for failing to make full financial disclosures in 2007 and 2008. […] The commission in an order made public on its Web site today said Keller in 2006 failed to report between 100-499 shares […]

Disclose, please

This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough by itself. The U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for corporations to pour money into influencing Texas elections, but the state ethics commission today is taking up a rule to make sure voters know who is spending the money. Under the rule up […]

What to do with all that leftover campaign cash?

The Texas Trib explores the question of what happens to the money after a candidate drops out or an incumbent retires. Let’s say you’re a donor to a candidate or an elected official who quits a race mid-campaign or chooses not to run again. What if you made a contribution to one of the nine […]

Chron raises questions about Al Hoang’s residency and campaign finance reports

The main question I have is why is this story just being published now, on Christmas Eve, and not before either of the elections? Houston City Councilman-elect Al Hoang and his wife claimed homestead exemptions on two separate homes, according to public records that also raise questions about whether Hoang meets the city’s residency requirements. […]

Improving campaign finance disclosure

This is a step in the right direction. The [Texas Ethics Commission] adopted new rules last week that, beginning this summer, will require anyone running for office to use 19 defined subject categories to describe any goods, services or other things of value purchased by their campaigns. In the past, these candidates chose vague terms […]

Has the TEC grown some teeth?

Well, no. But they do seem to be levying bigger fines, so maybe their gums are a little harder. By every measure, the agency is issuing more — and larger — fines, the records show. “There’s been a shift to focus more on enforcement and compliance,” said the commission’s chairman, San Antonio lawyer Ross Fischer. […]